In this recently rereleased edition of The Last American Gypsy, author A.P. Smith takes us along with him for Phish Tour 2004, starting in Hampton, Virginia, at The Mothership… Here is an excerpt from The Last American Gypsy.
The Purple Cape of a Man Named Juice & The Illegal Underbelly of Camp Close By
I first met Juice in Colorado, hitchhiking from Boulder to Red Rocks for a Trey Anastasio Band concert. At breakfast, I ran into a pair of hippies and asked them if they were heading to the concert at Red Rocks.
“No,” says one. “But he was wanting to go. He’s visiting from Maine.”
“Well, I’m going, but I don’t have a ride and I think we should all go together.”
“But I don’t have a ticket.”
“You’ll be able to find one down there,” I say. “I’ll help you.”
He thinks about it for a moment.
“I’ll drive you if you want to go,” his friend says.
So the three of us pile in his car later that afternoon and the driver says, “I just have to make a few stops first.”
We go to the bank, the post office, Burger King, his girlfriend’s office to deliver the Burger King, then we stop at the drug dealer’s house but he isn’t home so we go to another drug dealer’s house. Then we go back to the bank.
“Don’t worry,” the driver says. “We’re on our way now.”
Suddenly the car fills with smoke. We stop and jump out. The driver opens the hood, sees the fire, runs to the trunk where he keeps a jug of water, runs back to the front and douses the fire.
As the last of the smoke clears, the three of us stand dumbfounded.
“Sorry, boys,” I say. “I’ll see you later.”
“Sorry, dude,” says the passenger. “Later.”
I walk two blocks to a main intersection, pull my notebook from my backpack, write RED ROCKS on a piece of paper, and hold it up for the passing traffic. Instantly, a topless Jeep Wrangler squeals to a stop.
The passenger is a beautiful, hippie chick in a white dress wearing her long blonde hair in pigtails. The driver is a shirtless man with long blonde hair held down by a headband.
“Hop in, dude,” says the driver.
“Thanks,” I say, hoping in. “I’m Andy.”
“You can call me Juice, little brother.”
By the time Juice, his girlfriend, Rose, and I arrived rolled into the lot we were friends. And the first thing Juice did when he stepped out of the Jeep was open his pack and remove a long, purple cape with silver glitter lettering across the shoulders that read *JUICE*.
“I’m ready now, little brother,” he said to me. “Let’s go for a walk.”
In the lot we met up with another carload of their friends and we all took shots and drank beer and smoked opium before I felt that it was time to part.
Wandering around I employed myself with the Orgasmatron for a while but when I ran into some friends from an earlier Colorado concert I put it away and focused on drinking, needing to catch up to their level of intoxication. By the time they were ready to go in, I had only just started and that’s where we split up.
I made my way through the lot drinking and making friends and then stumbled upon a table of free Everclear Jell-o shots.
“Have a free shot, before they melt,” says the girl.
“Everclear?” I ask, already drunk.
“It sure is!” she says. “Come get your free jell-o shots!”
“I’ll have one,” I say and down it. “Ya know, I haven’t done Everclear since junior year of high school when my friend Sparky and I would take pulls of his brother’s bottle after school.”
“Then you should really have another,” someone whispers to me before taking his free shot.
“I should,” I say, and take another. “Sparky and I would be drunk through dinner off this shit.”
I take another.
“That’s all,” I say, and move on.
What could only have been an hour later I was beginning to have trouble walking and this guy catches me at some point, rights me up and asks if I want any acid.
“No,” I say. “I don’t have the money for that today, thank you.”
“No, for free,” he says.
I cock my head back and look at him down my nose.
“Well, sure then,” I say. “Why not?”
He takes me to his car where he sits behind the wheel and I sit shotgun and he says, “put your head back and stick out your tongue.”
I comply, feel the liquid land on my tongue, close my mouth, open my eyes, and look at him.
He’s staring at me. And he looks horrified.
“What?” I ask.
“You’ve tripped before, right?” he asks.
“Good,” he says, laughing, patting me on the shoulder. “Because I just gave you like twenty or thirty hits, I don’t know, it just poured right out.”
He’s still laughing as he steps out of the car, leaving me inside to prepare for what would surely be the most intense drug experience of my life.